Travel

Heron Island: DIY-lovers’ island dream - and it's for sale

Reef off Heron Island - Courtesy of GAPDL
Reef off Heron Island - Courtesy of GAPDL Paul Giggle

GOT a few million lying around?

Because Heron Island Resort is for sale.

The 10ha block sold "for a steal" in 2009, according to the manager at the time, but it was part of an $85million asset sale from real estate investment group GPT group.

You'd want healthy pockets for any likely deal here; because it fetched $42million in 2004.

JJL Hotels and Hospitality launched the sales campaign for the island late last month. Agent Andrew Langsford said the company was committing to selling but wouldn't comment on the price they were chasing this time around.

"We've had some very strong interest... the majority of it was domestic and a healthy amount of offshore interest," he said.

John Johansen is the longest serving general manager at the resort - he was there from 2008-2012 - and says while it is the "jewel in the crown" of the Great Barrier Reef, it will need a lot of work.

Delaware North bought the resort in package deal with Lizard Island off Cairns in 2009.

But six years later, the private company that owns resorts and hotels around the world, are committed to selling both islands.

"The resort is getting a little bit tired like all of the island resorts on the reef," John Johansen said.

"It needs someone to get hold of it and knows what they're doing. It'll need a bit of money spent on it. (Islands) are not cheap to do up because you're so remote everything has to come in on a barge."

>> Heron Island for sale: your stories, photos

Despite the romantic location, we understand Heron Island Resort has been through its fair share of managers over the years.

Mr Johansen says that short cycle on most island resorts is because of the isolation and pressure on managers.

"Logistically there are a lot challenges. You are virtually running a little city where you have to provide water, power and sewerage. Everything around you is heritage listed and compliance is very stringent," he said.

But, he says, profitability is easy if the basics are done right; the right people are hired, because the Great Barrier Reef will always attract the visitors.

"When people think of Australia they picture the Uluru, Sydney Opera House and the Great Barrier Reef, they are always going to come," he said.

"Heron Island is right on the reef, and is really a great resort."

Mr Johansen added that the resort had been profitable in his four years at the helm.

Mr Langsford said the main selling point for Heron Island was the wildlife.

"It has a spectacular natural habit. (One of the most famous undersea explorers) Jacques Cousteau put it in his top 10 diving sports in the world," he said.

"There's been some trading growth across the Great Barrier Reef over the last 12 months on the back of the low Australian dollar with an increase travel from Asia," he said.

The agent wouldn't say how much commission he would get when the sale is made; but it wouldn't be pocket money. And he said he isn't expecting it to be a fire sale.

"Historically they do take some time; it's in a remote location," he said.

"They would most likely visit the island before they buy it."

So, we'll certainly be keeping an eye on the private jets that start landing at Gladstone Airport.

Topics:  editors picks, heron island, island for sale, resort



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